This is the only solution for balding men to get full heads of hair again
AP Photo/Francois Mori
Luckily, with modern science, the process isn't quite as permanent as it used to be, according to hair transplant surgeon Dr. William Yates of Dr. Yates Hair Science in Vernon Hills, Illinois.
Surgery is the only thing that can actually reverse hair loss.
"No one gets more hair as you age," Yates told Business Insider. "If your hair is looking better as you are aging, you're doing something other than a fancy shampoo and broccoli."
So when it seems like a man who had a receding hairline suddenly no longer does, that's most likely the result of a hair transplant.
It's no secret, it's routine, and there aren't very many downsides, aside from the monetary cost.
Here's how it works:
It starts with an overview of the scalp, where your doctor will identify which areas need additional hair to thicken.
The hair on the back and the sides of the head is then taken and transplanted to the front. Yates says this hair is more stable, and it's genetically different enough to be resistant to thinning.
"So we kind of rob from Peter to pay Paul," he said.
The technique Yates uses is called folicular unit extraction, which only extracts individual hairs, not long strips, so as to prevent scarring.
"Basically it's almost like farming. It's just re-allocation of resources," he said.
It's not creating any new hair. It's just relocating the same hair you already have in different areas of the scalp. After a procedure, the patient should have permanent hair all over, but the sides and the back are also a little bit thinner by the same amount the front is fuller.
The good news: this transplanted hair won't fall out like the hair before it did. Hair loss is not a scalp problem; it's a hair follicle problem, Yates said. He added that hair transplants are generally very successful, and they work around 90% of the time.
One word of caution: it takes a little while for the hair to grow - around 3-4 months.
"Everyone now wants instant gratification, but it's not one of those deals," Yates said.
Now comes the sticker shock: Yates says his average hair transplant procedure runs around $8,000 to $10,000, but that will depend on how many hairs need to be transplanted. This price point seems to put it more in the realm of billionaires like Elon Musk, who many speculate (and Yates confirmed, according to the pattern of hair growth) likely underwent a hair transplant. Still, Yates claims that many of his patients are of an average income level.
"The majority of my practice is just the regular guy," he told us.
For the guys who think that think they can regrow hair with a vitamin-rich supplement like biotin or a home remedy like onion juice, Yates lays down a healthy dose of skepticism.
"Will they help you? Probably not. Will they hurt you? Probably not, so it's a wash," Yates said. "I don't put too much faith in those things."